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Grand Delusions -- Henry Hoet and Cobblestone Manor

Grand Delusions --
Henry Hoet and Cobblestone Manor

by James Musson

ISBN 0-96996-690-3
146 pp / bibliography / index / photos

In the small southwestern Alberta town of Cardston a two-storey, fourteen-room, cobblestone mansion stands in graceful elegance behind lilac bushes and several varieties of trees. This is Cobblestone Manor, built by Henry Hoet, one of Alberta's most mysterious eccentrics. A native of Belgium, this reclusive artist appeared in Cardston, Alberta, in 1913. On a site overlooking Lee's Creek he began building a fabulous mansion out of rocks he hauled from the creek. Using scraps of exotic hardwoods he obtained from the Mormon Temple during its construction, Hoet fashioned unique honeycombed ceiling panels of golden oak and dark oak. He imported fine stained glass from Italy and made numerous lighting fixtures, forty of which he installed in one room. He also made beautiful massive oak furniture.

To earn the money for building materials, he accepted a commission to do fine wood inlay inside the Mormon Temple. Later, he did much of the finishing work inside the Prince of Wales Hotel at Waterton National Park. He was building the house for his fiancée in Belgium, expecting her to join him upon its completion. But she never came. When his dream home was nearly completed, he was committed to a mental institution and his estate was auctioned off. His mansion was eventually abandoned. Some believe it was haunted.

Author James Musson interviewed many oldtimers, some in their eighties and nineties. Alberta archives were searched, uncovering many of the builder's secrets. The book includes a brief background of the Mormon migration to Cardston and the development of the community; the building of the Alberta Temple and Cobblestone Manor; the life of Henry Hoet and its aftermath; the building of the Prince of Wales Hotel; the lovely teacher and artist Loila to whom Hoet transferred his affections; Hoet's progressive mental disorder and his twenty years incarceration in Alberta's mental institutions. It concludes with Cobblestone Manor as it is today and its present owners who resurrected the wonderful rock house.

About the Author: James Musson is a former educator and school principal. He has published articles and stories both in professional journals and in the popular media. He recently coauthored the latest revision of the Fitzhenry & Whiteside Book of Canadian Facts and Dates.

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